By his gradient and divination, his fall was inevitable. He knew. He lived with the speed of quicksilver ; the whizzing flash of speed demon ; the fabled man in a hurry. Unlike Simon Bolivar, the iconic freedom revolutionary in Hispanic America or Mao Zedong touted as the military and industrial revolution Czar in China, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu holds only the touchstone as trailblazer in military coup in Nigeria. But his name has endured. As an acclaimed elemental lord, he lived and came good on his Philosophia Magna, trouncing death and life in a convivial melee.
In his short trajectory, he sojourned more in the whirlwind and the storm. He was sunshine mixed with hurricane, and a storm with skin. Like Walt Disney in that epic poem, he had the courage to pursue his dream. And like Bernard Shaw too,” he who cannot, teaches”. Many have drawn from his short, eventful life. Today, 52 years after his death, we are at the bottom of another tale. The paradox of his life, the flame of his dreams, the sadness of his conflicted contradiction congeals at the doorstep of his death. How did he die? In atrophied dreamland, in esoteric found land or his choice design? Either way, it was a death steeped in source –the apotheosis of his soul. The beatification of ‘suicidal ideation.’ For Nzeogwu, suicide morphed into the greatest kind of freedom, a release from everything. Away from the indelicate confines of wart, he opted to breathe no more, fight no more, and hurt no more. The cauldron and bile at the time sieved him from martyrdom. It was squeezed in cupped palms and murmured behind closed doors. He, more than us had a more unassailable title to his own life and person. From the words of Andre Breton, he learnt that “life’s greatest gift is the freedom it leaves you to step out of it whenever you choose.
He was the life and soul of his steps. He was not a shadowy static that was barely there. For a passion, a dream, a mission, he went silent forever.
“Immediately they came near, he did that thing. He injected himself, and released a grenade. All those soldiers died with him.”
The late Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, acclaimed leader of the January 15, 1966 coup, an event that derailed democracy and introduced military rule in Nigeria was born on February 26, 1937 in Kaduna. He died in a mysterious circumstance on July 29, 1967 in the Nsukka sector, during the Nigerian civil war.
While official accounts say he was killed in action, his sister Mrs Susan Uwaechie, 77 years old has come out to say the late major was betrayed and sold to Nigerian troops by his late colleague and co- traveler Emmanuel Ifeajuna , and resorted to mass suicide when cornered.
She speaks on the life and times of her brother from a close quarters. He also speaks on the long friendship of the family with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, among other related issues. Excerpts: